Pitching it differently.

Pitching it differently.

So what’s the gossip – this Friday, September 29th. Well for starters, l am hearing all those Christmas Market regulars who have grown accustomed to the same pitch each year have just had a bit of a shock.

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Part of last year’s Christmas Market

They are being moved around bit. I think things got confused with work alongside the Abbey and the possibility of structural work in York Street. So its a slightly different street plan.

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Stalls around the Abbey this year.

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Stalls in Bath Street are extended and there seems to be a Zone 2 in Southgate Street.

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Here’s the whole planned layout.

Meanwhile with the Christmas Market in mind – the scaffolding company responsible for the work on the old Empire Hotel has been told the poles can’t come down until after the Christmas business is finished around the now luxury block of apartments.

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So the scaffolding stays into the New Year?

Seems there’s no room – with safety in mind – for the dismantling teams and their lorries.

A few years ago much money was raised  by auctioning the Bladud’s pigs that were dotted around the city. One was in place outside Bath Abbey until quite recently.

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One of those pigs that raised so much for charity.

I am hearing there is a possibility of another set of colourful street creatures. This time owls.

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Bath’s springs were dedicated to the Celtic goddess Sulis which the Romans identified with their own goddess Minerva. Her greek counterpart is Athena who was often depicted with an owl – symbol of wisdom.

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The pediment of the temple to Sulis Minerva with its Gorgon head – also contains the head of a tiny owl. It’s in the bottom right hand corner of the piece of stone with the Gorgon’s head.. The rest is missing but it was almost certainly perched on top of another helmet.

Bath to lead way on new public art work.

Bath to lead way on new public art work.

Compared to other cities l think it fair to say Bath doesn’t have much in the way of figurative public sculpture. While, what is does have isn’t exactly in the public realm.

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Prince Bladud in Parade Gardens

If you are a visitor, you have to pay to go see the likes of Prince Bladud and his pig in Parade Gardens or a diminutive Mozart – while the former Empress of India, Queen Victoria, has been placed half way up the exterior wall of the Victoria Art Gallery.

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Queen Victoria’s niche at the Victoria Art Gallery

Her Majesty actually visited Bath – as eleven year old Princess Victoria – to open Royal Victoria Park!

Not before time, moves are afoot to honour another Bath celebrity. No – it’s not a life-size figure of Beau Nash or Jane Austen. While l know Chaucer’s Wife of Bath should get a plinth to stand on – it’s not her either.

I am talking Adelard of Bath – a medieval scholar and England’s first scientist – who is the subject of a conference this coming week-end (Saturday, September 30th from 2 until 5pm) at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square.

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You can buy tickets through Bath Box Office – and l think there might also be some left to buy at the door.

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This 12th century English natural philosopher – and his connections to Bath- may not be too familiar to most Bathonians – indeed no one knows what he looked like – so Bath Newseum talked to the man in charge of this week-end’s symposium – Michael Davis.

Find out more about Adelard on the BRSLI website – www.brsli.org

Sign of the times!

Sign of the times!

Larkhall is one Bath community that can still proudly boast that it has three pubs along its ‘main road’ and one of them – the Bladud’s Head – has been making some interesting discoveries whilst doing major external renovations.

The Bladud's Head in Larkhall

The Bladud’s Head in Larkhall

It’s also handy having local artist Pete Cashman as one of your regulars when it comes to making a feature out of some ‘hidden’ details that were found beneath the old paint-work.

Artist, Pete Cashman outside the Bladud's Head

Artist, Pete Cashman outside the Bladud’s Head

Pete has restored writing on the side of the building from nothing more than a ‘shadow’ imprint of the original ‘official notice’ which he thinks may date to the mid 1800’s.

Whilst on the corner edge – a Harlequin-styled diamond pattern is glowing again under his stead hand and delicate brushwork.

The 'licensed to sell' sign!

The ‘licensed to sell’ sign!

He thinks it was a pattern that may have acted as a warning to anyone who didn’t realise they were close enough to this hard-edged corner of the building and in danger of banging their head.

The diamond-patterned 'warning' sign!

The diamond-patterned ‘warning’ sign!

Pete has already made his mark at the pub. He did the artwork on the pub’s new Bladud’s Head sign which hangs out front.

The ancient and legendary King of Bath’s features, he says, are taken from an old coin the landlord has in his possession.

The new pub sign!

The new pub sign!

While l was taking shots a local lady passed by and stopped to tell us the pub was once a line of cottages and she remembers two of them originally licenced to sell alcohol.

Any other memories of this Larkhall feature would be gratefully received by the Virtual Museum.

Hidden doors, street art and a ‘king’ gets his sign back!

Hidden doors, street art and a ‘king’ gets his sign back!

What secret do these Sydney Gardens shrubs contain?

What secret do these Sydney Gardens shrubs contain?

I often cycle in from Larkhall along the Kennet and Avon Canal and down into the city through Sydney Gardens. I had pedaled past two clumps of bushes – across the road from the entrance facing the Spa Macdonald Hotel – many times but never noticed the sunken doors almost hidden within.

I had heard that air-raid shelters were dug in this park and Queen’s Square so assumed that is what the doors led to, but a chat with a park-keeper suggested a different use.

He told me they led to a huge underground reservoir of water which fed Bathwick. Can anyone elaborate?

Cutting back the laurel.

Cutting back the laurel.

Elsewhere in the park they have been radically cutting down some of the laurel and certainly letting light in!

While on my bike – but taking a different route – l love the little line of terraced late Georgian? properties in Walcot Street – on the same side as The Bell.

The little terrace in Walcot Street.

The little terrace in Walcot Street.

Two of them still have their original small panes of glass set within the pretty Venetian windows facing the road.

Original panes of glass in the venetian window.

Original panes of glass in the venetian window.

Now on a completely different subject, here’s food for thought – over in Bristol on buildings awaiting redevelopment – lots of examples of ‘street art’.

Bristol urban street art.

Bristol urban street art.

Real urban visual energy – many say – but not all. Should we be doing the same thing on the end of this empty office block in Charles Street. It might speed up its re-development after all!

Could buildings like this one exhibit street art too?

Could buildings like this one in Bath exhibit street art too?

One final thing – which l keep forgetting to do – and that is to  congratulate the landlord of the Bladud’s  Head at Larkhall for putting a new sign – featuring the mythical king – back up outside!

A new illustrated sign outside the Bladdud's Head in Larkhall.

A new illustrated sign outside the Bladud’s Head in Larkhall.